Ad Industry Coalition Wrestles With Measuring Mobile Video

Part of Ongoing Effort by Media, Ad Industry to Measure Multi-Screen TV Viewing

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NEW YORK ( -- A consortium of media and advertising companies is beginning two new tests aimed at chronicling the ways consumers watch video on TVs, the web and mobile devices. In the process, the consortium expects to create a system that will, for the first time, measure mobile video consumption and internet use through mobile apps by a single group of consumers.

The Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement -- a consortium of media and advertising companies that includes AT&T, Microsoft, News Corp., Time Warner and Comcast, among others -- said it will conduct two pilot tests with Arbitron and ComScore aimed at monitoring the behavior of so-called three-screen users who watch video with a bevy of different devices.

"As consumers are moving across platforms and you have content or an ad campaign that runs across these different screens, you don't really have a good way of measuring the unduplicated reach and frequency of the program, and so that's been kind of a challenge for the media and marketing industry for a few years now," said Jane Clarke, the coalition's managing director.

Efforts by the Coalition -- also known as CIMM -- have drawn scrutiny, not only for the array of heavy-hitting media and ad companies funding it, but also because the group hopes to eventually devise a means by which large content companies can monetize viewership of favorite TV shows on new distribution outlets, including iPads and the web. The work might be seen as crucial: Media companies currently command much lower ad prices on new media than they do for good ol' TV viewership.

The tests will be done with aid of a personal media-usage tracking technology developed by Arbitron that monitors what selected panelists do when they watch TV, surf the web or use a smartphone, said Carol Edwards, senior VP-cross platform sales and marketing at Arbitron. "We'll be able to very passively measure their media usage, their cable and broadcast television usage as well as their usage of the internet, and whey they use their mobile phones," she said.

For its part, ComScore will collect online and mobile measurements and combine them with "set top box" television viewing data and additional mobile internet usage data from mobile server logs, said Joan FitzGerald, VP-television sales and business development at ComScore.

Formed in the fall of 2009, CIMM has often been described as a mechanism by which the nation's big media and ad companies can challenge the dominant provider of media measurement, Nielsen. Whether the group devises a measurement system that prompts media outlets to abandon Nielsen's methodology prompts Nielsen to incorporate some of CIMM's efforts into its own or ends up mostly being an exercise in media theory remains to be seen.

Work on both the pilot programs from ComScore and Arbitron will begin immediately, with results available in the second half of 2011.

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